Election Rules

The Students’ Guild is a democratic organisation and has a duty to ensure all of its elections are free and fair (Education Act 1994). 

The Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) is responsible for creating a framework that allows candidates to campaign for votes in innovative and effective ways, whilst ensuring a level playing field for all. The DRO and Returning Officer will review complaints/activity in line with this framework and work with candidates and campaigners to support a positive campaigning period. If you have any questions about the rules you can contact the DRO at elections@exeterguild.com.

  1. These rules apply to all candidates and their campaigners (here, we refer to both as ‘campaigners’). The candidate is responsible for the actions of their campaigners.
  2. All candidates and their campaigns must, at all times, abide by existing law and regulations, in particular:
    1. University regulations (including IT policy)
    2. Data protection (GDPR)
    3. Health and safety
    4. COVID-19 regulations and guidelines (Government and University)
    5. The Guild’s Code of Conduct
  3. All campaigners must always conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, treating everyone with respect and dignity.
  4. Campaigners must follow the direction from the University’s Campus Services, Estates and Grounds staff, and Estate Patrol whilst campaigning on campus. 
  5. Campaigners should not undertake campaign activity which others could not also reasonably do.
  6. Campaigners may only alter, move or remove their own campaign materials once in place.  
  7. Campaigners may only use mailing lists where lawful to do so and must not use Guild mailing lists. 
  8. Campaigners must allow voters to cast their ballot freely and must not communicate with voters once they have started completing their ballot, nor touch a device being used to complete a ballot. 
  9. Campaigners must have all campaign activity approved by the Deputy Returning Officer (or delegated Guild staff) prior to campaigning. Due to the pandemic, in-person activity will not be possible. Please contact the Voice team for advice. We have provided a risk assessment and tips document for hosting an online event, if your event is in this boundary then you are fine to go ahead without notifying the Guild. If your event goes further than this risk assessment, please speak to the Voice team. 
  10. Campaigners must not exceed their budget limit and must submit their Campaign Expenses Form on time (even if you don’t spend any money). Find out more here.
  11. Student groups are free to engage with this election but can only show support for candidates with the agreement of the majority of its members. Student media groups must give fair and equal treatment of candidates in their coverage of the election. We have produced a more detailed briefing on this here.

If you think someone has breached this framework, you can make an Election Complaint.

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Election Complaints

If you think that a candidate or one of their campaigners has broken the Election Rules, you can make an Election Complaint using this form (not by email or in person). Complaints must be made before 17:00 Thursday 18 March.

If there has been a breach of the rules, the Deputy Returning Officer will investigate and might issue penalties. Penalties may include: confiscation of materials, instruction to remove online content, banning campaign activities or events (temporarily or permanently), fines (taken from campaign budget), and ultimately disqualification (only in the most serious circumstances). The failure of a campaign to comply with a penalty can incur further penalties.  

The Deputy Returning Officer may instruct the vote to be re-counted if candidates have been retrospectively disqualified. 

Complainers and complainants have the right to appeal a decision up to two hours after it is made. The Returning Officer will assess the fairness of the original decision and penalty. The Returning Officer may uphold the original decision or made a new decision. This decision is then final.

Before making a formal complaint, we recommend trying to resolve the issue with the candidate concerned about it first if you are able to.

If you are a candidate and you feel that your campaign is being unfairly disadvantaged (even if an election rule might not be broken), please contact the Voice team for advice or support elections@exeterguild.com.

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Campaign Budgets

Everyone should have a fair opportunity to be a candidate and have a good campaign. That is why the Guild gives every candidate a Campaign Budget:

  • £50 for candidates for full-time roles (Guild President, Vice Presidents, AU President).
  • £20 for candidates for part-time roles (College Officers, Subject Chairs).
  • £20 for candidates for NUS Conference Delegate.

You must use your Campaign Budget for all campaign expenses. You must not spend more than your Campaign Budget. If you go over your budget, you might get a penalty (see Election Rules).

Items freely and readily available to all campaigners do not need to be included as campaign expenses.

You must complete the Campaign Expenses Form (which lists each of your campaign expenses, even if you did not spend any money) before 17:00 Thursday 18 March. This form will be emailed to candidates nearer the time.

You must also provide receipts (or other evidence) for each of your campaign expenses by 16:00 Thursday 25 March. Any discrepancies between the receipts and the Campaign Expenses Form will be investigated.

We recommend you keep track of you budget and receipts as you go. You might want to nominate someone in your campaign team to be a ‘treasurer’ to look after this.

Once we have the receipts, we will reimburse you (pay you back) the campaign costs (this will normally take around 5 working days). If you need your campaign budget up-front, please contact the Voice Team (voice@exeterguild.com) and we can arrange this for you.

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Deputy Returning Officer

The Students’ Guild is a democratic organisation and has a duty to ensure all of its Elections are free and fair (Education Act 1994). It is the job of the Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) and the Returning Officer (RO) to make sure this is the case.

Our Deputy Returning Officer is Kathryn Sullivan and she issues the Election Rules and approves the candidates. She is also responsible for investigating and deciding election complaints. You can contact Kathryn at elections@exeterguild.com.

Our Returning Officer is an appointed member of staff at NUS (National Union of Students) and is responsible for deciding any appealed election complaints and generally the election is free and fair. All communications to the Returning Officer go through the Deputy Returning Officer.

NUS National Conference

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